Although few gay actors have been permitted the luxury of openness, many of them have challenged and helped reconfigure notions of masculinity and, to a lesser extent, of homosexuality.
Considering the unique set of problems facing lesbians who want to produce erotic art for the enjoyment of other lesbians, it is remarkable that so much lesbian erotica has been produced in so brief a time.
Lesbian actresses have played a significant role in Hollywood, but their contributions have rarely been recognized or spoken of openly; the "lavender marriage" is by no means a relic of the past.
Although American gay film icon Brad Davis has been described as "the first heterosexual actor to die of AIDS," he was widely known as bisexual within the entertainment community.
Long-distance swimmer and respected sports commentator has in more recent years spoken out on issues of glbtq rights.
The greatest dancer of his time, Rudolf Nureyev also gave the world a new and glamorous image of a sexually active gay man.
While nude depictions of women appear in most cultures, on both sides of the equator, and in rich variety, lesbian artists have been particularly resourceful in their use of the female nude.
Handsome, athletic, graceful, and charismatic, actor Errol Flynn was widely rumored to enjoy sexual relations with men as well as women.
Prime Minister David Cameron.
The hate-filled "Values Voters Summit" held by right-wing Christian groups and other conservatives in Washington, D.C. this past weekend turned out to be an orgy of gay-bashing. The Republican presidential candidates lined up to denounce same-sex marriage. They also pledged to reinstate Don't Ask, Don't Tell; promised to enforce and defend DOMA; and solemnly swore to oppose the "homosexual agenda." In this context of American conservatives' embrace of discrimination and bigotry, it is worth noting that at the annual conference of the U.K.'s Conservative Party on October 5, 2011, Prime Minister David Cameron forthrightly endorsed same-sex marriage as a matter of conservative principle.
Cameron announced, "We're consulting on legalizing gay marriage. To anyone who has reservations, I say: Yes, it's about equality, but it's also about something else: commitment. Conservatives believe in the ties that bind us; that society is stronger when we make vows to each other and support each other. So I don't support gay marriage despite being a Conservative. I support gay marriage because I'm a Conservative."
Cameron's government, a coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, announced plans to introduce legislation establishing marriage equality before the next general election, which is scheduled for 2015.
In 2004, the labor government of former Prime Minister Tony Blair passed the Civil Partnership Act, which came into force in December 2005. A civil partnership provides same-sex partners with virtually all of the rights of married heterosexual couples, including automatic legal recognition as next of kin, inheritance, and pension rights.
The most significant differences between civil partnerships and marriages are religious. Since the United Kingdom's official state church does not approve of same-sex marriage, the government made civil partnership an entirely secular process and even restricted the places where civil partnerships could be executed to non-religious venues.
Cameron's government previously announced plans to relax some of the religious restrictions on civil partnerships. For example, religious denominations and groups would be allowed, at their discretion, to host and participate in civil partnership ceremonies just as they do marriages.
However, the main objection to civil partnerships by most glbtq people, including activists such as Peter Tatchell, is that separate legal classifications are inherently unequal.
Cameron's plan to upgrade civil partnerships to marriage is thus an attempt to grant glbtq citizens full equality under the law in the United Kingdom.
His plan will be opposed by the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church, and the evangelical churches, as well as some members of his own party, but it will likely be supported by majorities of the Liberal Democratic Party and the Labor Party.
Below is a video clip of Cameron's speech at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester on October 5 in which he declares his support of same-sex marriage as a conservative principle.